How Trump's trip to Michigan will pan out for fuel and efficiency

The White House and auto industry are questioning fuel and emissions rules hailed by the previous administration's EPA.
By Daniel J. Graeber  |  March 15, 2017 at 9:24 AM
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March 15 (UPI) -- As President Trump heads to Michigan on Wednesday to roll out relaxed vehicle emissions and fuel standards, debates began early over the potential results.

The president scheduled a trip to Michigan to meet with auto executives to discuss what White House spokesman Sean Spicer said would be a roll back of regulations that would "lead to more American jobs and higher wages, specifically in the automobile sector."

The administration said it would tap the brakes on regulations put in place by President Barack Obama meant to encourage hybrid and electric vehicles, improve fuel economy standards and reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector -- the sector contributing most to greenhouse gas emissions.

A senior White House official said the Trump administration disagrees with determinations made by the previous administration on issues, including whether they are technologically and economically feasible.

In a February letter to the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said that, based on the 2012 rule under the Obama administration, manufacturers need to have model-year 2025 vehicles with an equivalent of 54.5 miles per gallon. By the estimates of the Alliance, no conventional vehicle meets that target and, to get up to speed, the automotive industry would need to spend about $200 billion to comply with the rules.

A federal guideline from the the EPA and U.S. Department of Energy on fuel standards for model year 2017 vehicles finds fuel-efficient vehicles would reduce U.S. dependence on foreign petroleum, which would align with Trump's pledge on the campaign trail to make the country energy independent.

"Oil dependence cost the U.S. economy around $116 billion in 2014 alone," the agencies wrote in the report.

A policy statement from the World Resources Institute notes most other leading economic powers, like China and Canada, the top oil exporter to the United States, have fuel efficiency standards comparable to the 2025 benchmark outlined by the Obama administration.

The WRI said relaxing the rules would be in the step in the wrong direction.

"We can't afford to go backward," the WRI said in a statement. "Doing so would not only accelerate the nation's technological innovation, it would protect our energy security, environment and public health for years to come."

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